Last year, the Nevada Legislature passed a bill calling for the implementation of a plan to reorganize the Clark County School District.
After much research and discussion, which KNPR's State of Nevada has reported on, the Legislature hired a consultant to draw up a plan based on the empowerment school model, whereby each school will be independently run, like a business franchise.
“I think that what I hear from my constituency and many Nevadans is that the want a stellar educational system," Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz told KNPR's State of Nevada, "I think moving towards an autonomous structure gives greater accountability to everybody.”
She said the plan gives accountability for everyone from principals to parents.
Under the plan, a group of people, including the principal, teachers, staff and parents, would run the school.
“That’s the idea of empowerment that there is input," School Board Trustee Patrice Tew said, "That no one has an imbalance of power.”
Instead of the principal making all decision, the principal is one vote. Tew said an advantage would be the potential of new ideas to solve problems.
The autonomous school plan also looks to improve the transparency of the school district. Right now, the school district budget is available online, but this would go further.
“We’re going to work towards publishing every schools individual budget online," Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky said, "Publishing how they’re going to use the money and require them to do meetings where they will actually be presenting their budget and what their goals are for their school.”
How much schools were going to spend and where is only one of the money questions that lawmakers had. The empowerment school proposal was supposed to be revenue neutral, but the IMPLEMENTATION of the plan will cost money, though the plan’s architect, Michael Strembitsky, did not estimate how much.
Diaz said she wasn't surprised that it would cost money. She believes lawmakers just didn't ask the question when the plan was being discussed in last year's legislative session.
Skorkowsky said there are ways to lower the cost of implementation and get creative about paying for the training required for principals and teachers.
Skorkowsky said besides a basic budget to cover basic physical needs of a school principals will be able to use a discretionary budget on services specifically for his or her students.
For example, with the new English language learner program, if a principal decides her students need more focus on fluency, she can use her budget to 'purchase' more fluency experts from the central administration to work with her students.
“So what we have to do now is take the structure, which is a phenomenal plan, and we have to look at how we can provide a menu of options to schools so they understand, ‘you are accountable for these results for this group of students and you have be successful,'” he said.
Skorkowsky said there are several parts of the plan that still need to be worked out including school maintenance budgets and teacher salary funding,
The final draft of the plan is expected July 1. The public will be able to give their opinions during public hearings.
Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz, legislative oversight committee for reorganization; Pat Skorkowsky, superintendent, CCSD; Patrice Tew, School Board Trustee, CCSD
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